For Immediate Release
May 8, 2022
After a loss in federal court last night, it is with a heavy heart that the Lorena for Senate campaign has announced the suspension of its campaign for U.S. Senate. Yesterday evening, the judge issued a ruling based on facts alleged by the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of the Secretary of State’s office which were not supported by the record, and which the campaign disputes. Once again, the campaign was shut down without a hearing.
A statement from Lorena Garcia follows:
We are concerned that the federal court’s ruling was based on inaccurate representations: that the campaign knew when it turned in its signatures on March 17 that it did not have enough signatures in each Congressional District; that it could have changed course to proceed through the caucus assembly process at that time; and that we waited until the last minute to file in court. To the contrary, when we turned in our signatures on March 17, we knew we had close to 14,000 signatures (far more than the required 10,500), but did not know how they were distributed among the congressional districts until the SOS completed its review almost 5 weeks later on April 20. The deadline for proceeding through the March 7 caucus (the first step of the assembly process) had long passed.
We proceeded to state court immediately — 4 days after the SOS’s April 20th notice — and filed in federal court less than 24 hours after the Colorado Supreme Court found we were not on the ballot, without even giving us an opportunity to be heard. But the damage is done, the ballot has been certified based on the federal court’s ruling, and we are ending our campaign.
When we started this race back in November 2018, we knew we would face challenges beyond measure. What we didn’t expect was how much support we’d receive. We did not expect our first organizing meeting to bring 40 people into the same room from all over Colorado. We did not expect to see our messaging and our ideas adopted by multiple opponents. We did not expect to receive notes from people all over the state and country, letting us know they feel heard for the first time. I never imagined the profound impact that all of the people of Colorado would have on me and our campaign, or that my candidacy would have on so many people. And I certainly never imagined the gift of meeting so many incredible people all across the state that I now consider family.
On March 5, COVID-19 reared its ugly head in Colorado. We had 12 days left in our tight, 57-day window to collect 1,500 signatures from each of the seven congressional districts in Colorado. Our incredible team of 192 volunteers felt the impact immediately. Large and small events were canceled. People stopped opening their doors, and our efforts to collect the necessary valid number of signatures — already an unprecedented task for a 100% volunteer team — became even more challenging.
The Colorado State Legislature acted swiftly to address the challenges with the assembly process, yet failed to address the public health of petition circulators and voters at the doors.
On March 17, we submitted 13,812 reviewable signatures to the Secretary of State. While this was more than the 10,500 needed, the SOS threw out over 4,000 signatures for different reasons, leaving us short of the 1,500 threshold for each congressional district. On the advice from the Colorado Democratic Party, other candidates, and the Secretary of State (SOS), a possible remedy to address the inaction of the legislature for ballot access was to sue the SOS for ballot access. So, we did.
We participated in two evidentiary hearings, one of which ran past 9 pm. We challenged more than 200 of the signatures that were rejected, and the district court judge agreed with us: they should have been counted. We were granted ballot access by the judge’s ruling, but the SOS appealed. The Colorado Supreme Court then removed us from the ballot without even offering us a chance to provide a response. We filed our case in federal court the next day. We did all of this in just two weeks, whereas the SOS took almost five weeks to review our signatures. Still, the federal judge agreed with arguments that we had unduly delayed pursuing our rights.
We gave this everything we had and came up short on making ballot access and giving Coloradans the option of choosing a people-centered candidate. Our race was historic. I was the first woman of color to run for US Senate in Colorado, and the first out member of the LGBTQIA community. I could have been the third woman in the history of Colorado to be placed on the ballot for US Senate. In the 144 years that Colorado has been a state, we have never had a woman Senator. Unfortunately, both our electoral system — which lifts up established candidates — and an unprecedented pandemic robbed us all of not only making history, but of electing a well-qualified candidate that reflects the people of Colorado to our US Senate.
Our fight will not end here. We will turn our energy towards helping local progressive candidates win their races. Candidates including Ilana Spiegel for CU Regent, Amy Padden and Alexis King for DA, Iman Jodeh and Randi McCallian for Colorado Senate, and John Ronquillo, Sally Boccella, Holly Herson, Jennifer Mitkowski, And Katie Barrett for State Representatives.